There are some who believe people are most creative when they are sleep deprived.
The belief certainly rings true for Port Macquarie writer and mother of five Hayley Lawrence who was announced as a finalist for the The Vogel Award.
Ms Lawrence said she wrote her manuscript Inside the Tiger during the witching hours, between 10pm and 1am while her family slept.
“When you write at night it’s so quiet and dark,” she said.
“There is a creative energy that comes to me when I work during that time.”
The literary award is the most prestigious in Australia for a writer under 35. The prize has been won by Tim Winton, Kate Grenville and Christine Piper.
Ms Lawrence said it was a privilege and an honour to attend the awards in Sydney on April 26. There are now publishers who are looking into her manuscript.
Inside the Tiger is a young adult story about a girl from an elite boarding school who writes to a death row prisoner in Thailand and falls for him.
The novel delves into questions about the death penalty and the nature of punitive justice.
“It explores the idea of mercy and whether it is something which can be gained or is a basic human right,” Ms Lawrence said.
Ms Lawrence drew on her own experience and background to shape the book and its characters.
Before family life Ms Lawrence was a lawyer. When she was 24-years-old she wrote to a Nigerian drug smuggler who was on death row in a Thailand prison. The correspondence lasted five years.
Ms Lawrence said the prison was Bang Kwang Central Prison nicknamed Big Tiger because it is notoriously known for its harsh conditions on the prisoners who reside there.
When she started writing to the prisoner she said she had a naive attitude.
“I thought if no one else is going to write I can,” she said.
“I don’t think I realised what I was getting into.”
When she was pregnant with her first child Ms Lawrence visited the man at Bang Kwang Central Prison.
She said the visitor area was decked out with flowers which was a front as it was a completely different reality compared to what the prisoners experienced.
Ms Lawrence expected the man to look impoverished as the prisoners can not survive solely on what they are given by guards.
However she was surprised to see that the man looked strong and healthy.
“I think that he had a good network of friends in there and they banded together to help each other survive.”
Ms Lawrence did a lot of research on prisoners on death row as well as executioners to help construct her novel. She also looked into the justice system, statistics on drug related crime and other crimes including prostitution.
While the theme of the novel is one which is quite dark she has weaved shades of light into it too.
“There is an element of hope that prisoners will receive a King’s Pardon or get handed a life sentence instead of the death penalty,” she said.
Ms Lawrence has been writing since she could hold an implement.
She didn’t write her first novel until she was 30-years-old and submitted the manuscript for her second novel Inside the Tiger two minutes before the cut off time for The Vogel Awards.
Ms Lawrence moved from Sydney to Port Macquarie with her husband 12 years ago.
The winner of the 2017 Vogel Award was Marija Pericic, who was announced in Sydney on April 26.